SPRING GROVE — In volleyball, there's often a discussion about whether a particular team has the killer instinct.
Especially when that team is one of the favorites to earn a division title.
Teams that have the instinct are usually the ones that are playing into late October and early November.
In a 3-2 loss to Central York on Tuesday, Sept. 19, the Spring Grove girls' volleyball team couldn't find its killer instinct after building a 2-0 lead.
So far this season, the Rockets have been a bit of a surprise. Sitting atop the York-Adams Division I standings heading into the showdown with Central, the Rockets suddenly found themselves favored to capture the division crown with early-season victories over Dallastown and Red Lion.
After Tuesday’s contest, however, the Spring Grove girls will have some reflecting to do.
The Rockets jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the match against the Panthers. But, with a chance to close out their rivals in a statement-making sweep, the Division I leaders instead lost the killer instinct.
That opening allowed the visitors to turn things around, while showcasing their own killer instinct.
Led by big nights from the trio of Emily Wilt (23 kills), MacKenna Caruso (14 kills) and Alexa Shorts (11 kills), Central rallied to earn a 21-25, 22-25, 25-15, 25-20, 15-10 triumph.
“I felt like we just stopped working as a team,” Spring Grove coach Liz Zeigler said of her team’s slide. “But I didn’t think that (losing the final three sets) could happen.”
It did in large part due to the mental toughness of Central York coach Nate Ocasio’s squad. The Panthers, who are starting to round into form after several injuries earlier in the season, were able to keep balls alive more often starting with Set 3.
“We started to grind it out more defensively,” Ocasio said. “And I think that we also got into a better rhythm with our serve-receive. I thought that Spring Grove did a great job from the service line in the first two games, but I think once we got settled in, that was when we started to see us turn it around.”
Turning Tuesday’s match around also improved Central’s outlook for the rest of the season. After falling to Dover earlier this month, the Panthers could ill-afford to fall two games behind the Rockets in division play.
With the victory, Central York (4-1) actually moved ahead of Spring Grove (3-1), which is now tied with South Western (3-1) for second in the standings. And don’t forget about Dallastown (3-2), which beat Dover (2-2) Tuesday.
All in all, it's now shaping up to be an interesting race for supremacy in the division. That excitement has even gotten to Ocasio, who is one of the more reserved coaches around the league.
“This season is very exciting,” Ocasio said. “I don’t think I’ve ever stood up during a match to coach before. Now I’m up and out of my seat the entire time.”
Airika McCaskill led Spring Grove with 17 kills and six blocks. Libero Faith Shaffer recorded 38 digs, while Kaylyn Zeigler and Hailey Marcionette combined for 35 assists.
Central setter Linnea Prudell dished out 44 assists to go with five aces. Marley Anderson paced the Panther defense with 25 kills, while Caruso notched 24.
Dallastown 3, Dover 1: At Dallastown, the Wildcats won, 25-13, 25-17, 23-25, 25-23. Delaney Kolb (13 kills, seven digs), Lexie Kalligonis (32 digs), Gabby Ream (34 assists, 15 digs) and Lydia Stump (15 digs, six aces) paced Dallastown. Dover's leaders were Chayce Hoffman (16 digs, 12 kills), Abby Diehl (28 assists, six digs) and Emma Davis (12 kills). Dallastown won the JV match, 25-8, 25-21.
York Suburban 3, Susquehannock 0: At Suburban, Chey Buckingham hammered home 11 kills and Lauren Guyer dished out 31 assists as the Trojans won, 25-11, 25-23, 25-23. Jaden Walker led the Warriors with 10 kills, 11 digs, three aces and one block.
Gettysburg 3, York High 0: At York, Tess Lampe recorded nine kills, five digs and four aces to lead the Warriors to a 25-2, 25-6, 25-17 victory. Alexis Tomassini added 19 assists, five aces, two digs, a kill and a block for Gettysburg. York High was led by Jae Fitch’s four kills, three digs, two blocks and two aces.
Littlestown 3, York Catholic 2: At Littlestown, the Thunderbolts roared back for a 19-25, 18-25, 25-23, 28-26, 15-10 victory. Emily Staub ran a successful offense, dishing out 40 assists while adding 11 digs, eight kills, four aces and a block. Bella Kepner posted 14 kills, eight digs, four aces and two blocks for the Irish.
Eastern York 3, Kennard-Dale 1: At Wrightsville, the Golden Knights triumphed, 25-17, 18-25, 25-15, 25-15. Morgan Dobbeck posted 20 digs, while teammate Katie Lehman added 16 digs and 24 assists. Jaden Gray and Mackenzie DeVita each recorded six kills for the Rams.
Reach Ryan Vandersloot at email@example.com.